30 July 2007

Dive what?

Something cool is coming this way soon...
Something related to diving ofcourse...

Even Lucas thinks it's uber-cool.

28 July 2007

MV Tung Hwang - The Cement Wreck

Cement Wreck is one of the 4 main wrecks (two WWII era and two post-war vessels) discovered by Maurice Davidson and some local divers back in the 1980s. He wrote a book about the underwater beauty and diving in Bruneian waters, Laut Brunei-The Brunei Sea.

A.k.a MV Tung Hwang, it is a small freighter 92 metres in length which hit the Samarang Banks while freighting cement to Brunei for the construction of the late Sultan's new palace. It sank on 25 September, 1980 without the loss of life and sits perfectly up-right on a hard sandy bottom in 32 metres. The masts are just eight metres below the surface at low tide and the roof of the wheelhouse is at 14 metres, with the main deck at 22 metres. Harsh weather conditions is slowly taking a toll on this wreck. However, it is still highly regarded by many underwater photographers as one of the most photogenic wreck in Asia and is well-known u/w photographer Michael Aw's favourite shipwreck.

Depending on the speed of your boat, it takes around 30-45 mins to get to this wreck off Muara Port. When visibility is great, one can see the top of this mast from the water surface. It feels like you're entering into a different realm, into something majestic that shouts a character of its own , into the preying ground for one and a sanctuary for another. Upon descending to the mast, you would normally be greeted by large schools of barracudas that patrol the wreck faithfully, and one or two playful batfish that are the friendliest towards divers. Sometimes they come so close that it seemed like there are the ones inspecting us.

The Cement Wreck has other wrecks in Brunei green with envy. Its beauty demands a wide-eyed "wow" from every diver and underwater photographer that has set their fins on it. The top half of it is covered by a garden of soft and hard corals, featherstars, sponges and ferns.

Caryn and I did our first deep dive here. I did not document much on that dive but i do remember most of my dive time was spent scavenging for treasures. Muhuuhuu. Tell me you wouldnt! Esp if you're a newbie. Infact, i did find a coin entirely covered in moss. I was so bloody excited! Only to scrape off the moss onboard and find that it's a 1990something 10cent coin. confused

Wreck penetration at the hull and engine room is possible for experienced divers. That is Caryn making the u-ey out when she saw a titan triggerfish waiting for her on the other side. They bite! This wreck is now home to a great variety of marine life. There's the lionfish, stonefish, scorpionfish, rabbitfish, giant barracuda, triggerfish, batfish, pufferfish, snappers, sweetlips, and many more. Below are some of the many permanent residents there.


.Leaf fish. Octopus.
Just last week, Andrew, Caryn and the rest spotted a green frogfish!

And sometimes...as rare as it gets, if you're lucky enough, a giant or two might drop in to visit.
Whaleshark spotted by Melski@Amilson and Reuben at Cement Wreck sometime in April last year.

Whalesharks are the largest living fish species whose ancestry goes back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods 245-65 million years ago. While the word 'shark' will instantly strike fear in the hearts of many, the whaleshark and many other species are infact harmless. They are the deep blue's Gentle Giants. It is one of my dreams to swim alongside these giants, although at times, i wonder how i'd react if i saw one at close range.

.Melski never looked smaller.

.Photos courtesy of Scuba Tech International, Brunei.

26 July 2007


From the Brunei Meteorological Service:

Outlook to early tomorrow morning
Occasional showers persisting mostly at sea.

Southwest 10-25 km/h on land; and 20-40km/h at sea!

Slight, at 0.5-1.0m, rising to Rough 2.5m during passage of squalls. eek

Forecast from news.com.au:
I suppose my hopes of diving this weekend are dashed. sad

24 July 2007

Boys can be lovable

When i was in Fremantle markets, i picked up some fake lavenders that i intend to use as decorations on a coffee table. It costs $3 for a bunch of 10 measly stalks. I bought 4 bunch very reluctantly while convincing myself they look pretty real. That very night, i heard distant hysterical laughs that was soon stomping towards me... "look what we found!!" Cupped in the hands of the boys were bunches and bunches of lavenders, fresh lavenders, real lavenders! I choked and ran into my room to grab the ones i bought earlier. Put them side by side. I wanted to throw up. My lavenders that looked pretty real that morning looked disgustingly fake now and has no scent or whatsoever at all! "where did you guys find this?"
"At the park? By the road?"
"Near someone's house"
"You picked it from someone's house??"
"No, it's just out there"
"You didnt go into their compound?"
"No, it's at the garden infront of their house"
"You're not supposed to do that, what if they see you!"
"We ran very fast"
"Well, it's not nice to pick flowers from other people's garden."

The night before i return to Brunei, the boys went on a lavender-picking mission for me. Partly because i really wanted 'em real lavenders. redface I'm horrible!

Late into the night the boys will cook indomee, that never fails to fill a croaking stomach, for themselves and for me. When grandfather woke up in the middle of the night, Zachary will cook him oats and make sure he's full and warm.

During this trip, i learnt a few things from the boys.
  • I learnt that i no longer want to have as many as 5 children that i've always wanted when i start a family.
  • I learnt that behind all the madness and testosterone, there are moments when boys are sensible beyond your expectations and have the kindest hearts.
  • I learnt that children, although young, has hearts big enough to care for their elders.
A week came and left in the blink of an eye. I'm back in Brunei now. A part of me is so looking forward to work and dive, a part of me miss the greens and beautiful riverside drives in Perth. I've always regarded Perth as my home away from home. But going back there without my uni friends and others around felt abit empty.
  • I learnt that Home isnt just where your heart is, but also where your friends and family are.

Esp. for Kim

Kim, when Natalie and I first introduced pole dancing to her a year ago, is now Felix.. our very own Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006 answering the kids' million-and-one questions about Kid, her racing greyhound. Cecilia and I went to see her performance and all i can say about it is Sizzling Hot. Pole dancing is hot on women's list these days as a different form of fitness training that can also help them work with their sensuality and their sense of artistic expressions as women. We're so proud of you Kim.

23 July 2007

What is your definition of fun?

I've never really travelled up north or down south when i was studying in Perth.. something i knew i should have but never got the chance to. So this time, with the family going over, i thought here is my chance. Before i came over to Perth, i googled for "Perth Attractions" and got a whole list of things to see, places to visit. When i arrived at Perth Airport, i grabbed brochures of must-see and do in Perth.

There's the Pinnacles and Monkey Mia, which is about 3-5 hours drive away from Perth. "No, i dont wanna sit in the car for 3 hours!". So that's out.
The Aquarium of WA where you can snorkel and dive with sharks. Cool, no?? "We've already been to an aquarium!". out.
What about the Yanchep National Park? Limestone caves and you get to see kangaroos and koalas! "Boring". out.
Oh, Scitech is cool, what about the treetop walk in Kings Park? All out the window.

Instead, on a Sunday afternoon when most shops are closed in the suburbs, when drizzles of rain and chilly winds took control, suddenly... the house is free of manic laughter, skippy toes running around, taunting chants, cries, and fights. Where are the boys?

Cousin and I decided to look for them, took to the streets until we came to this house and saw familiar shoes parked under a tree...
and a backyard door left open. We made our way in and found the 3 boys had made friends with the neighbours and got themselves invited into the house. surprised

It all started when they were roaming down the street and found this absolutely cool tree

.Dexter getting his daily exercise.

and met Tyler (L) and Raden (R).

Brian, the youngest and most agile of them all, hollered: "e-e (auntie, sobs, that's me) look at me, i can climb really high"... *climb, climb, up, up* "you want me to climb higher??" At this point, my knees gave in... i felt soooooooooo weak. "NO! that's really really really very very very high. Come down now."
And oooh, the street sign looks tempting. Brian had trouble getting up so Tyler, whom i think is one "chili-padi".. the loud, bossy and absolutely charming young lady, showed him the ropes! She's a friggin monkey!

And ofcourse, no boy will ever wanna lose to a girl. So he rounded up the troops to give him a few big hands. Hahaha.

The challenge was cut short when rain started pouring again. Weee, run people, run...

When we got home, the boys all agreed they had bucket loads of fun.

Early this morning, we tried our luck again. "Hey boys, wanna go see koalas?"
"NO! we wanna play RISK"
Am i the only one who thinks you havent really seen Australia if you havent seen them koalas?

Funny thing is we try so hard to entertain them when all they wanted is just to play ball and skateboard in the park or to play boardgames tucked in a room warmed by firewood. Children are innocent and simple like that. NOT when they are fighting.
I attempted to make blue cheese pasta last night, and i seriously didnt think it was that great. But Dexter, being ever so kind and polite, said "mMmm, it's delicious".
I'm so touched!

22 July 2007

Holiday aside

Ooo, my cuzzy Zing sent the image below to me this morning. I thought she missed me so much that while sitting by the window, looking out at the high-rise buildings in Singapore, sipping her coffee...and *a-hah* she decided to make me something special. Then i found out she made it on ImageChef. Cheh! Muhuuhuu. Another thing to keep me glued to the computer. I've been tagged by Pandachu. No questionnaires, big big relief. Thanks Jess, i know i know..i rock. lol

I'm passing it on to Zing, Scubabum, Caroline, Shoe Freak, Ding Dong, Blurgal, Chel, Whistles and Woofhams. These ladies rock my virtual world.

My best buy

Didnt get to go to Monkey Mia, nor Ningaloo Reef for that matter. But Little Creatures, i did.. i did. Oooo, the freshly brewed beer and blue cheese pizza. It is to die for.
.Little Creatures @ Fremantle.
It was a massive boat shed, now converted into a brewery.. and within it a bar and restaurant. I had my pale ale poured straight from the conditioning tanks. I'm not exactly a fan of beer but you cant say no to a 'small' glass of little creatures.

With tummies full of cheese and fries, we walked across the park to Fremantle market where i found the best buy of my trip.
.L-Myrtle (4 years), R-Chinese Elm (6 years).
.Precious little things.

Now i just have to figure out a way to get them pass customs. Actually, do they really care?

21 July 2007

Handbrakes are damn useful

Looking like an elf in the driver seat of an 8-seater car, i breathe a breath of bravery when i started the engine. The last time i had my feet on a clutch was 3 years ago in a ninja-turtle car with a woman on the passenger seat screaming "Jangan laju! (dont speed), too slow too slow... faster" eek

Clutch on, handbrake off, reverse gear.. i revved..then the van made all sorts of sounds and spasm. So i drove around the suburb until i felt comfortable enough to drive alongside other vehicles. I stalled like a hundred million times! Then made my way to Garden City to do some shopping. Stalled at the junction AGAIN. Went to pick up my uncle, cousins, nieces and nephews from the airport... met a red traffic light, upward slope: definitely not my most favourite place to be. I drove as slow as i could so it'd turn green when i get there but no.. i had to brake. Stalled and rolled backwards. Immediate thought was "pull the bloody handbrake!". Someone should have seen the look on my face.cry

I will never again drive a manual car.

With so many kids in the house, two 8s, one 11, one 14 - boys and one 16 yo girl, it's a challenge to find a place to go that everyone will be happy with and activities to keep them occupied. So we do it the aussie way. Wow.. look at all these leaves, lets pile 'em up!! Then comes the screams, the hustle for brooms and rakes and the "come seeeee our pile, it's 10 times higher than yours!!"
.Totally impressed.

Managed to persuade the young ones that Point Walter is beautiful at sunset. It's famous for its sandbar that extends 1 km into the river. The kids took off their socks and sneakers and headed for the tip of the sandbar. Grandfather rolled up his pants and ran after them. I thought what-the-heck, if grandfather can do it, so can i...shaked off my heels and braved the freezing waters.
.Sunset at Point Walter.

The kids were well-behaved the 1st day, so we took them to Perth's indoor laser gaming. It's a 1000 square metre combat arena with sniper towers, claymore mines, ramps, and even a real plane. It's super cool, even for me.

Well-behaved didnt last very long.

Andrew, look at those grass! I cant help but wonder what will i see in there... pygmy pipehorse? That and the dead pufferfish totally reminded me of you. lol
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